If you were suddenly teleported into the deep bush could you survive? Could you secure the resources you need to build shelter, make fire, and create your own tools? Bushcraft is the fine art of using the raw materials nature has given you to your advantage. When a fully blown SHTF situation hits, you better have the proper skills. Bushcrafting is ancient as time itself but only recently has it gained popularity. Out of this popularity comes books and materials you can read to hone your skills in the wild.
Check out the list below for a few of my favorites.
Let’s crack straight in to this list with a book every bushcraft beginner must own. Dave Canterbury is a well known survivalist (not the Bear Grylls kind) and has put together the greatest introduction to bushcraft. It covers solid bushcraft concepts and focuses on the bare basics. The only thing you need to get started is a knife. I did feel the book could have included more illustrations but it certainly stands on its own as a powerful introduction to the art of bushcraft. If you are brand new to bushcraft, this is a must read.
The logical next book you should read after the 101 guide. It expands deeply on the core concepts found in the first book and includes advanced information about hunting, trapping, foraging, and making things you need out of raw materials. This book does a much better job including pictures in parts where Dave goes into specific details. Things like trapping diagrams are beautifully displayed so you can get a visual idea of how its made. Dave’s simple and friendly writing style solidifies advanced concepts into your brain, like a bushcraft download straight into the pre-frontal cortex. Dave’s an absolute expert on this stuff.
Arguably the most extensive and beautifully detailed bushcrafting resource. The entire volume is packed with illustrative diagrams and explores solid bushcrafting concepts like firemaking, chopping wood, falling trees, and creating shelter. There are also whole sections covering cordage, using a knife properly, and making tools and materials required to do good work in the bush. The thing I love about this book is the author keeps the focus on bushcraft. Many bushcraft books include a lot of information about survival, which is fine, but draws you away from the core bushcrafting aspects. You can also tell right away the author knows what he’s talking about.
Extremely practical bushcrafting book with clear step-by-step instructions. Instead of simply telling you what tasks you need to do, the author practically takes you by the hand and delivers excruciatingly detailed instructions. This book has developed a cult-like following among survivalists and bushcrafters for very good reasons. One thing separating this book from the others is the use of actual photographs rather than hand drawn diagrams. The photographs give you a real sense of what you’re making should look like. The entire book is 10 chapters and covers everything from tanning deer skins, making fire, cordage, making a bow and arrows, making traps, meat preservation, primitive cooking methods, field dressing and butchering a deer, container making (baskets and pottery), making tools, and making shelters.
Larry Olsen was an avid bushcrafter back before it was cool. He wrote this book in the 60’s and the lessons and principles he lays out are absolutely timeless. This is one of the original texts on the topic of bushcraft and reading it feels like being transfered back in time to the generations of our forefathers. The book is filled with all the classic bushcrafting topics like friction fires, securing clean drinking water, fire, shelter, and has a fairly comprehensive section on wild edible plants. Definitely put this on your list of best bushcraft books.
Another legend in the bushcrafting/survival realm, Tom Brown lays down a no-nonsense guide to his unique approach to bushcrafting and wilderness survival. As a boy, Tom trained under the close guidance of an Apache elder and medicine man, where he learned the art of bushcrafting, tracking, trapping, and foraging. It’s not everyday that kind of legendary wisdom gets passed down. $11 bucks is a small price to pay for one mans complete breakdown of what it takes to make it in the bush.
Ray Mears is another legend in the wilderness survival realm. Ray has decades of experience hammering it out in the deep bush and teaching others the craft. Ray is an English woodsman and brings unique perspectives to the table. His book Essential Bushcraft dives deep into all the essential bushcrafting tasks you can imagine and extensively covers keeping warm during the harshness of winter. Lots of good information in this one.
This is a collection of bushcraft books written by the very skilled and talented Richard Graves. Graves has been writing on and about bushcraft for well over 40 years and has amassed volumes of knowledge on the subject. Many of his bushcraft “handbooks” are hyper specific, with each handbook detailing a very specific aspect of bushcraft. For example, he has an entire handbook on huts and thatching alone. The 10 Bushcraft books is a compilation of all his handbooks and forms one of the most comprehensive bushcrafting resources out there.
The above 8 bushcraft books are the best resources you can get your hands on. I recommend you pick up at least one to begin your bushcrafting journey or to supplement your existing knowledge. You will get the most out of these books by taking them out into the wild and putting the material into practice. Soon you will have your own experience to draw upon, which will be crucial when TSHTF!
Let me know in the comments what buschrafting books you like the best.